Sephardic Cousins Reunite, 40 Years On

For Gerard Edery and Claudio Betan, the connection is both genetic and musical.

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Forty years is a long time between drinks. Or collaborations.

Gerard Edery, Left, and Claudio Betan. "We share the Argentine connection," Edery says. George Robinson

A Folkie With A Hip-Hop Groove

L.A.-based songwriter Mikey Pauker makes his N.Y. debut.

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Never underestimate the power of persistence.

A native of California, Mikey Pauker combines several musical sources, traditional and modern, in his songwriting.

Blues From The Casbah

The Jewish-Muslim El Gusto Orchestra reclaims the chaabi sound of Algiers before the revolution.

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It seems as if every culture has one, a signature populist musical genre that speaks from the heart of a people, that expresses some unique national passion, pride and longing. In Portugal it’s fado, Spain flamenco, Greece rebetiko, the U.S. blues and bluegrass. It’s the music of the poor, sometimes of the underworld.

Algerian swing: A bulk of El Gusto’s members are in their 80s and 90s. Yvan Manioski

John Zorn, Still Looking Ahead

‘Zorn at 60’ festival tracks part of the ‘radical Jewish culture’ guru’s prolific output.

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As they get older and their style becomes more refined, most great artists strive towards a stripped-down, simplified version of the style that made them famous. Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso all aimed for fewer brushstrokes. B.B. King and Count Basie reduced their solos to telegraphic dimensions, with each note speaking where cascades might have been heard before.

“The music just flows — there are no doubts,” Zorn says. Scott Irvine

Rick Moranis, Cooking With Brisket

With some kvetching and a healthy dose of nostalgia, the comedian’s just-released CD mines the Jewish tradition for laughs.

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You can hear the rabbi whispering directions in the background.  To the melody of a haftorah, Rick Moranis chants a story about a red-diaper baby, now running his father-in-law’s auto parts business, who’s having his bar mitzvah at age 46.

In his new CD, Rick Moranis lovingly mines his cultural Jewish background.

‘Newsflash’: Gilad Hekselman Can Play

The Israeli-born jazz guitarist revels in spontaneity on his new release, ‘This Just In.’

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When he was a little boy growing up in Kfar Saba, Gilad Hekselman became fascinated by Michael Jackson.

“When I was 7, I was a big Michael Jackson fan and wanted to be a singer,” Hekselman, now 30, admitted in a telephone interview this week. “But I tried to play the drums and the guitar and I gave up singing.”

Israel may have lost a potential “Melekh shel Pop,” but the jazz world gained a terrific guitarist and composer, whose fourth CD, “This Just In,” is being celebrated with a gig June 11 and 12.

“I come from a music-appreciating family, but no one is a musician,” said Hekselman, who moved to New York about 10 years ago as part of a wave of Israeli jazz musicians who have made a significant mark on the city’s jazz scene.

From Michael Jackson to the N.Y. jazz scene: Gilad Hekselman.

Building A Musical Tower Of ‘BabEl’

Israeli alto saxophonist Uri Gurvich weaves ‘folkloric’ elements into his Middle Eastern-tinged jazz group.

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The sound rolls out of the saxophone, a sinuous, plangent moan that evokes rivers — the Nile,the Jordan, the Mississippi.

Uri Gurvich

Between Bima And Stage

Sharon Azrieli Perez’s big voice can bridge musical worlds.

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It is somehow appropriate that Sharon Azrieli Perez should be giving a Mothers’ Day concert on May 12. She is, after all, not only an opera singer, she’s also a mother of two.

“I love to sing the music that was written for cantors in the 1950s who moved easily from pulpit to stage,” says Azrieli Perez.

Giving Jewish Composers An Artistic Rebirth

Leon Botstein’s ‘Hungary Torn’ concert celebrates works of Jewish musicians whose lives were disrupted by the Nazis.

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It’s not a memorial concert.

Leon Botstein conducting the American Symphony Orchestra. Jito Lee

A Shoah Love Story Fit For The Opera

Composer Gerald Cohen stages Jack and Ina Polak’s ‘complicated’ concentration camp romance.

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The composer Gerald Cohen has known Jack and Ina Polak for over 25 years, first as their cantor at Shaarei Tikvah Congregation in Scarsdale and, gradually, as a friend. So when he asked the couple if he could adapt the story of their time in Bergen-Belsen as an opera, it was likely they would say yes.

Ida and Jack Polak, in their early years and today, above, are the subject of an opera, “Steal a Pencil for Me.”
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